Medicalizing Blackness

Making Racial Difference in the Atlantic World, 1780-1840

Rana A. Hogarth

ca. 21,65
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Geisteswissenschaften, Kunst, Musik / Geschichte


In 1748, as yellow fever raged in Charleston, South Carolina, doctor John Lining remarked, "There is something very singular in the constitution of the Negroes, which renders them not liable to this fever." Lining's comments presaged ideas about blackness that would endure in medical discourses and beyond. In this fascinating medical history, Rana A. Hogarth examines the creation and circulation of medical ideas about blackness in the Atlantic World during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. She shows how white physicians deployed blackness as a medically significant marker of difference and used medical knowledge to improve plantation labor efficiency, safeguard colonial and civic interests, and enhance control over black bodies during the era of slavery.
Hogarth refigures Atlantic slave societies as medical frontiers of knowledge production on the topic of racial difference. Rather than looking to their counterparts in Europe who collected and dissected bodies to gain knowledge about race, white physicians in Atlantic slaveholding regions created and tested ideas about race based on the contexts in which they lived and practiced. What emerges in sharp relief is the ways in which blackness was reified in medical discourses and used to perpetuate notions of white supremacy.

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Esq. M.D. Inspector General of Military Hospitals, William Fergusson, Cachexia Africana (dirt-eating), urban slave hospitals, antebellum medical dissertations before 1850, Benjamin Rush, slavery in the lowcountry and West Indies, South Carolina, racial immunity/racial disease susceptibility, medical education in the South pre 1850s, obeah in Jamaica, Greater Caribbean, Health of enslaved Africans/African Americans, James Thomson, Jamaica, Absalom Jones, Kingston Hospital and Asylum for Deserted Negroes, Medical College of South Carolina, Kingston, race and medicine, medical knowledge in the early republic, enslaved healers and medical competition, Charleston, Philadelphia Yellow Epidemic of 1793, "torrid zones", plantation medicine